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Ask TUAW: Arabic Mail, playing Wii, calibrating color and more

Wednesday means it is Ask TUAW time! This week we'll look at questions about Arabic support in Mail.app, playing a Wii on a Mac, Digital Color Calibration, problems copying from Firefox and much more. As always, please leave your own comments, and ask more questions for next week either in the comments to this post or using the tip form. Now let's dive right in!

Jesse asks

I do a good bit of photoshop editing on photos that will later than be printed (in my schools yearbook usually). when I'm editing things like saturation of colors, and brightness/contrast, I've noticed a tendency that, while open in ptshp, the photo looks much more saturated and contrast-y than when i open it in preview, or when i print it. any way to do this without one of those expensive monitor calibrator doo-hickeys?

OS X does have a built in color calibration tool. Just go to the Color tab of the Displays Preference Pane in your System Preferences and click on the "Calibrate" button:

This will launch OS X calibration utility which will all you to create a color profile basically by eye-balling certain shapes and colors. It's not nearly as accurate as a color meter of the sort you mention, but it is helpful. Check out this excellent discussion of manual calibration over at ATPM.


Lucky asks

How do I disable "Check spelling as you type" globally? Whenever I relaunch an application, it automatically enables itself back. I often write in another language and I hate to see each word underlined.

Unfortunately, from what I can tell, this is an application specific setting, so there is no global switch. However, it sounds like a bug in some particular application you're using, so I would contact the developer of that application (just as an example, here's a report of the same bug in MarsEdit).


Ben asks

I am interested in getting a component video input into my mac - mainly as I want to attach my Wii to it. Is there any way to do this? Or HDMI? I have an iMac so am unable to use PCI Cards.

Unfortunately, I don't think there is any way to input component video into an iMac in a cost effective way. There is some professional level equipment that may do it, but that's clearly not what you want. Insofar as you just want to play your Wii on your Mac, I would suggest using an Elgato EyeTV Hybrid which we recently reviewed, through its S-Video input. Elgato even advertises its suitability for doing this "with virtually no latency," and since the Wii is not hi def anyway, you won't be losing that much. And besides, it gives you an over-the-air HDTV tuner to boot!


Conor asks

Help! When I try to copy and paste text from webpages in Firefox to Mail.app, it loses all the links and pastes it as plain text. In Safari (which I hate, sorry, personal preference), however, the links are preserved. Is there any way to select and copy a paragraph from a webpage in Firefox without losing the links?

Unfortunately, I think the answer here is no. We've actually posted on this in the past. Basically the problem is that Firefox renders the page using the Gecko engine and when you copy to the clipboard the formatting simply does not come through properly as explained here. I think there's just not really anything you can do, except perhaps to view the HTML source and copy that.


Sven Bocklandt

I'm looking for some help with how to deal with my music videos. I have quite a collection of them, some bought from the iTunes store, most downloaded from other sources.... I can set up a smart folder with some rules to make music videos go in there, but then other video fragments do as well (because iTunes labels every video that's not bought from their music video store as a movie). I'm sure I can manually tag them etc....But the real problem with iTunes is that it's just not good at playing videos. I have a bunch that play great in Quicktime and sort of work in iTunes, but very choppy (that's true for some video podcasts too by the way... why are they worse in iTunes than Quicktime???). And of course they're in a bunch of different formats, some of which iTunes doesn't support....Now, I'd be happy to use iTunes for audio and something else to play my music videos. Front row is fine but you have to manually select and start each video. As far as I know there's no "playlist" support for videos. And Quicktime doesn't do it either. When the video ends, it's done.


Well this is a surprisingly difficult question to answer. My first response was just going to be: use VLC. However, then I realized that you're trying to play some DRMed files that you bought from iTunes. That means you have to use iTunes or QuickTime Player. What you really need is support for playlists in QuickTime Player, but unfortunately, it does not have support for playlists. So what to do... Well there are a number of QuickTime playlist utilities, but I could not get any of them to work properly, and besides there is still the problem of getting the videos from your iTunes playlist into QuickTime Player. So here's my suggestion: use a quick and dirty AppleScript from Doug's AppleScripts called Open Video in QT Player. If you select several videos in iTunes, then invoke this script (you have to activate iTunes script menu if it is not already active) a new QuickTime Player window will open for each of the files. I know it's not elegant, but then at least you can go through and hit play, and when it finishes close the window and hit play on the next one. I invite readers to offer their own suggestions here.


Salam asks

I can't seem to figure out how OS X deals with Arabic, some sites work, some don't. Adium displays Arabic text correctly but nothing else really does. I am using Mail.app and this again doesn't seem to know what to do when I get an email in Arabic neither do any of the MS software (Entourage, Word, etc.).

All of OS X's Arabic support is through Unicode. I suspect what is happening is that some of the sites you are wanting to look at are not properly encoded with respect to Unicode and others are. In any case, I found two possibly helpful suggestions. The problems is helpfully explained in this post at macOSXhints. A possible solution with respect to Mail.app is suggested at Hawk Wings, which basically consists of forcing Mail.app to compose in Unicode by writing a hidden preference in the Terminal. Since I don't deal with Arabic at all, I can't really test this, but I hope this helps. Interestingly enough, I also found this post suggesting that Apple is in the process of localizing OS X into Arabic right now. Once that is done, you may have better luck overall.

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